President Rules out Suspension of Iran’s N. Activities

Iran will not bow to international pressure to halt its nuclear program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, after world powers told Tehran to halt uranium enrichment or face a third round of UN sanctions, Reuters reported. “If they (the West) think by using some organizations (UN) they can prevent Iran from obtaining (nuclear) technology … they are mistaken,” Ahmadinejad told a rally in the southeastern Kerman province.

Senior officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China warned Iran on Wednesday of fresh UN sanctions if it refused to halt uranium enrichment work.

The United Nations has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran since December over its refusal to freeze enrichment, a process Iran is using for generating electricity.

“The Iranian nation will continue to insist on its right to nuclear technology,” Ahmadinejad said.

Several western diplomats told Reuters that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani made it clear to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Ankara last week that Iran had no intention of fully suspending its enrichment work.

Among the issues discussed at their meeting was a Swiss proposal for a staged plan leading to a simultaneous suspension of Iran’s enrichment work and UN sanctions to enable talks between Iran and six world powers to start, diplomats said.

“Iran said it was considering the Swiss offer, but would not accept a full suspension before, during or after talks,” one diplomat said. “And if a third resolution is passed by the Security Council, then Iran will stop considering the plan.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki attended a regional conference on Iraq in Egypt on Thursday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki exchanged pleasantries over lunch at the conference, but did not discuss details of policy.

“They said hello. It was not about substance,” said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), adviser to 26 industrialized countries, said on Thursday there was no reason why Iran should not have nuclear energy.

“I don’t see why a country like Iran could not have nuclear as part of its energy mix,” IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil said in Paris. The IEA is an advocate of nuclear energy as a way to address future needs without polluting the planet.

“There is no energy reason why it should be denied nuclear,” he said, although he added he understood the West’s concerns.

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